I will never forget the first time I met Meagan Ethell. She was at The Projects working with Mike Ferraro on the new System 2.0 and had just done her first Raley. She was only 11 years old! Everyone knew she had some talent.
Now fast forward four years. Meagan has just finished first at both Board Up Miami and Wake Games for her first two professional wins.
I know first-hand how hard this young girl has worked. I've been lucky enough to be in the boat while she trained with Darin Shapiro. I've watched her spend hours at OWC on the cable. I've seen her joy and excitement over sticking new tricks, as well as a few tears over some frustrating sets. I guess that's why I am so proud to have been able to watch her grow into the rider she is quickly becoming.
After her Wake Games win, I got together with her and played a little 20 questions about what has led up to her recent success and this is what she said.
WW: What's your name age and where are you from?
ME: Meagan Ethell, I am 15 and I am originally from Illinois, but I have lived in Florida for four years.
WW: How old were you the first time you rode a wakeboard?
ME: I was nine years old when I started riding.
WW: Do you come from a gymnastics background?
ME: I did gymnastics for a few years and was on the team. I left gymnastics due to my passion for wakeboarding.
WW: When did you decide you wanted to be a pro wakeboarder?
ME: After I had been riding for a few years I decided I wanted to try the pro division.
WW: Was it hard to convince your parents to let you move to Florida at such a young age?
ME: No, I love riding and think it's a lot of fun. I knew moving to Florida would help me progress in all areas of the sport. It was hard, though, leaving my family.
WW: After you moved down, who started coaching you?
ME: Mike Ferraro and Ryan Jones have been my coaches since I was nine years old.
WW: What other coaches or riders have you worked with?
ME: I've worked with Darin Shapiro and Dallas Friday.
WW: How old were you the first time you entered a pro event?
ME: I was 12 years old the first time I entered.
WW: How did you finish?
ME: I made the finals, placing fifth.
WW: Do you feel like it's an advantage being one of the youngest pro women riders?
ME: I do because I still have so many years ahead to keep riding and training.
WW: What's a typical week like for you as far as training?
ME: I ride cable and boat at OWC after school and on the weekends.
WW: How did it feel to get your first two professional wins in the first two pro events you entered this season?
ME: It felt amazing to finish first! I hope to win more this season.
WW: What do you think was the turning point that brought you to your current winning status?
ME: I feel like I am being more consistent and not letting my nerves get the best of me.
WW: You were the standout on rails and spins. Has that been something you have been working on in the off season?
ME: Yes I have. I have spent a lot of time at OWC hitting the rails every single day and doing spins off the kickers.
WW: Your new Krypt is sick, as well as your 5's and Tootsie Roll. Are you working on anything else to add to your overflowing trick bag?
ME: I have been working hard on the cable doing air tricks, so I can take them to the boat. I have also been practicing grabbing my spins and making them more consistent.
WW: How cool was it to go back to high school on Monday after your win at Wake Games?
ME: It was awesome because all of my friends were congratulating me!
WW: Speaking of high school, is it hard to squeeze in homework between riding the cable, the boat and being a 15-year-old girl?
ME: After school I wakeboard and I usually stay up late trying to do all my homework. I manage to squeeze it all in.
WW: What advice would you give to a wide-eyed 10-year-old girl who wants to be a pro wakeboarder like you?
ME: I would definitely tell them to ride the cable every day. I would also tell them to work as hard as you can and have FUN! Hard work definitely pays off.
WW: Who would you like to thank for helping you to achieve your wakeboard dream?
ME: First off, I would like to thank my parents for supporting me all the way. I would like to thank my sponsor, Orlando Water Sports Complex, for helping me to get to where I am today. I would definitely like to thank my coaches Mike Ferraro, for pushing me to my limits, and Ryan Jones, for helping me learn everything I have off the water.
Meagan is part of this new breed of action sports athletes. When most kids her age were playing with dolls, she was training. Instead of chasing boys, she is entering and winning pro wakeboard events. Keep your eye on this young talent because I think she has only scratched the surface of what is to come in her wakeboard career. Meagan is proof to all young wakeboarders that if you work hard, get the proper coaching and have FUN, anything is possible!